Steve Jobs chose the perfect time to resign. Apple is in its prime. High off the success of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, Apple briefly pushed past Exxon earlier this month to become the world’s most valuable company in terms of market cap. The iPhone 5 is set to be released in October with rumors of Sprint being added as a carrier. They made $7.31 billion in profit last quarter alone. Jobs has no doubt solidified his icon status by turning Apple and Pixar into institutions of innovation and leadership in their respective industries. However as Jobs resigns as Apple’s CEO, it’s his philosophy that can leave the biggest mark, above any iconic product he introduced to the world. And if there’s anyone that should take a closer look at Jobs’ approach, it’s our government.
The federal government and Apple are two very different entities. A CEO doesn’t have to share power with two other branches of leadership. Apple isn’t a company in gridlock due to competing factions. Yet, there’s so much our political leaders can learn from Jobs’ tenure at Apple. The US is currently facing many of the same challenges Apple faced in the early ’90s. Apple was losing to an exploding competitor, Microsoft. Their OS was stagnant and out-dated. Their stock was tanking. Apple needed more than a jolt of fresh products. It needed a new philosophy. In Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company by Owen W. Linzmayer, the newly appointed Apple CEO Jobs is quoted as saying:
“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”
Today, the US is going the route of a Jobs-less Apple in the early ’90s. It’s choosing austerity over investment, contraction over transformation. Indeed, the cure for the US is not cost-cutting. The cure for the US is to innovate its way out of its current predicament. The solution is not closing factories and schools. It’s finding and creating new industries, rebuilding our infrastructure, and investing in education to produce the world’s brightest leaders and innovators.
Steve Jobs defies the “conservative business leader” image our political culture and media are so fond of. At a time when many feel traditional conservative business thinking is the answer to the US’ current predicament, Steve Jobs is living proof of the opposite. Anil Dash says it best:
So, who is this man? He’s the anchor baby of an activist Arab muslim who came to the U.S. on a student visa and had a child out of wedlock. He’s a non-Christian, arugula-eating, drug-using follower of unabashedly old-fashioned liberal teachings from the hippies and folk music stars of the 60s. And he believes in science, in things that science can demonstrate like climate change and Pi having a value more specific than “3″, and in extending responsible benefits to his employees while encouraging his company to lead by being environmentally responsible.
Every single person who’d attack Steve Jobs on any of these grounds is, demonstrably, worse at business than Jobs. They’re unqualified to assert that liberal values are bad for business, when the demonstrable, factual, obvious evidence contradicts those assertions.